In an effort to reduce manufacturing costs, improve quality and reduce lead times for new products, Schneider Electric, the power and control equipment manufacturer, has just signed a $1 million contract with Tecnomatix Technologies, for its eMPower suite. The plan is to create a true, ‘collaborative’ environment across 100 Schneider sites worldwide, enabling design and manufacturing engineers to work concurrently, sharing data across a common software platform. Until now, the company has been operating with a variety of different software packages with no common approach to the deployment of manufacturing processes. But with eMPower, it expects to be able to make industrial strategy decisions earlier in the product development process, with much tighter control over the timings and budget for each new project. Schneider will implement five eMPower modules: eM-Planner for evaluating operator resource requirements and for analysing alternative assembly scenarios before committing to actual production; eM-Workplace for the actual design of production lines and manufacturing cells; eM-Assembler for evaluating different assembly sequences and operations; eM-Human for calculating manual operations on assembly lines and for carrying out ergonomic studies; and eM-Plant to model the production flows.